View Full Version : McDonald's Sacking Wont Derail Fishing Future

16-02-2006, 07:09 PM
Minister's sacking will not derail discussions about fishing's future

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Fishing industry representatives are confident that the sacking of Ian McDonald as Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation will not hinder the Federal Government fishing adjustment package process.

McDonald's replacement, Eric Abetz, has taken the important position of maintaining the well-informed advisers who have been at the fore-front of negotiations with industry and environmental interests up until this point, most notably Duncan Souter.

And that is good news for fishermen as they prepare for a crucial meeting with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Australia Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) reps in Canberra later this month.

The South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) special meeting is open to all operators in the fishery, not just SETFIA members, something that SETFIA rep Fritz Drenkhahn is eager to stress.

"We have to get as many operators there as we can," he said.

"The three big issues at the moment - the adjustment package, marine parks in the south east, and AFMA arrangement - will all be discussed."

The meeting is on Wednesday, February 22, at the Brassey Hotel, Belmore Gardens in Canberra.

Those wanting to attend need to ring Gail Richey on 03 64287766, for catering purposes.

Mr Drenkhahn said that this meeting would be the only opportunity for fishers to meet with government reps before a series of port visits began in, hopefully, March.

"The government are drawing up their itineraries for the port visits, but we are still negotiating on what sites will be visited," he said.

"We don't want them visiting every port, because the money to fund these visits is coming out of the pool of money for the adjustment package.

"We don't want the government to be frittering away money that is meant for fishermen on flights and hotels."

An important part of the industry timetable at the moment is that there will be a period of four weeks after the final decision on the south east MPAs before the final adjustment package tenders are due, giving fishermen time to consider whether continuing operations is possible in light of the new conditions.

"The MPA situation looks significantly different now compared with what it was when first released in December, as a result of our efforts over the negotiation table," Mr Drenkhahn said.

"But it must be realised there will definitely be an impact on fishing stocks, the idea is to find a happy medium between all interests."

SETFIA has said it has become "increasingly concerned about the way in which the government is proposing to implement the structural adjustment package in the South East Trawl Fishery."

A frank statement from SETFIA earlier this year said that while the members were extremely supportive of the package when announced last November, the issue of MPAs in the south east had clouded the issue somewhat, and that there were concerns that under the current proposal quota is not included in the adjustment package.